Friday, October 11, 2019

Where Did the Courage Go?

Leadership, teamwork, risk, collaboration, trust...and courage...important words that dramatically impact the life of an organization. Not only are they important at the team member level, they are essential at the senior levels of any organization if it is to thrive.

Easy to Say
Sure, the quick out here is that "leadership-speak" is simple and straightforward to say, but a very different thing to practice in real life.

I disagree.

It seems to me, after several decades in the leadership business, that the absence of courage is the key trait that derails leaders and their effectiveness.

Think about the members of your team:
- Who runs toward a problem, not away from it?

- Who is upfront and honest about what is happening vs. spinning things toward a self-interest point of view?

- Who is willing to hold others accountable vs. blindly following along?

Easy to Do
No, not easy to do. But, when your values are in proper alignment, it no longer becomes an issue of easy or hard. Instead, it is simply about having the courage to do the right thing.

So, how does it happen? What is the secret to trying to do the right thing each time? And how do you avoid falling into a political mess? Good questions, with only one answer...

Do the right thing regardless.

How About You
When was the last time you tapped into your reserve of courage? It's there...waiting for you to access it. I say, go for it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses. 

Thursday, October 3, 2019

There's Only Picture...the Big One

Here are some quick thoughts on the incredibly important, yet often completely missed, big picture.

1. Do not confuse busy and getting lots of things done with seeing the big picture. 

All too often tactical items become the work, when in fact, savvy leaders are not bothered with noise; and instead "see" what is happening on a much broader scale.

2. Remove self-interest as your primary focus.

Sure, we all want to win...but it is painfully clear to our business partners when we are playing the "it's all about me" card. Not only is it ineffective, it destroys your credibility.

3. Remain professional.

Sounds easy, but in big moments we have all seen leaders decompensate into an emotional train wreck. Professionalism always carries the day. Always.


How About You
What are the key areas you focus on when the heat is turned up and you need to get significant things done?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Finding A Way

All things considered, life is pretty easy, don't you think?

Of course it isn't. Sometimes it's hard as hell.

Pressure
I don't know about you, but I feel a tremendous amount of pressure in my life. Some is self-inflicted, some is based on the nature of the work I do, and some is just unnecessary. 

But it's there. Every day.

Am I doing a good enough job at my firm? Am I maintaining important clients? Am I bringing in enough new ones to take care of our team and hire new employees as we grow? Have I addressed every single issue that has been thrown my way?

Sometimes it feels like a bit too much. Often times it feels like...well...a bit too much.


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Pain
Then there's that other emotion...the one that surpasses pressure, whether it's in our professional lives or our personal ones. You know this one too...it's the disappointment when we stumble. It's the hurt when we make a mistake that is often huge in our minds, but isn't quite that big in reality. It's letting someone down when we really never intended to do so.

Resilience
Amongst all of these swirling feelings, we find something. It's hard to describe and nearly impossible to quantify. Yet, it's there. We can feel this one too. It's our ability to pull from somewhere deep inside and marshal onward. Often times with unexpected confidence.

Where did that come from? Why didn't it make an appearance at the beginning of this journey instead of at the perceived low point?

How About You
How do you 'handle' it all? Is it easy; or, do you find yourself in a dark place that does not have a clear path out.

Until it does.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bigger Than Me

I recently had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Kenya. Specifically as part of a team that actively supports the Inua Partners in Hope program that helps orphaned young people gain vocational skills to...somehow, amongst the most devastating of circumstances and poverty...provide for themselves.

The whole experience was overwhelming...and hopeless...and incredible...and inspiring.

In short, it was bigger than me.

Perspective
As you might suspect, my view on the 'problems' in my life quickly melted away as I witnessed the power of the human spirit in such extreme circumstances. I returned to my work with colleagues and clients and prospects armed with a fresh perspective. 

Suddenly, the crisis of the moment, or complicated work relationship wasn't really all that complicated..let alone a crisis. 

Here's the rub...how sustainable will my 'new outlook' be? Is this the natural after-effect of something as powerful as my trip; or, have I opened the door to not only how I view my work going forward, but how I will invest my time and resources as well?

Hopefully, it sticks. I'm counting on it.



How About You
When was the last time you experienced a profound event in your life? Did it carry over to your professional life? Did those powerful emotions and newly found clear lens stay with you?

I'd love to hear from you.


No Excuses.


Tuesday, September 10, 2019

No Trick Pony

The world of work, and leadership in particular, is an interesting place. So many experts, confident souls, and buried among them...real pros.

What I find most curious are those leaders who profess to be so good at everything they touch that they can do no wrong.

Ever.

Good at Something
To be fair, we're typically good at 'something'...whether or not that happens to align with our jobs is a totally different matter. For the most part however, everyone brings something to the game.

Where I run into trouble myself; and, see others struggle, is when the belief that we are the smartest people in the room becomes our reality. That is dangerous territory, filled with over inflated egos, arrogance, and a lack of credibility.

I've been there from time-to-time...and I hate it. It's quite embarrassing actually. Fortunately those moments are the exception not the rule. For others though...it is a way of life. 



How About You
What do you do about those leaders in your organization that are "just so darn smart" that they've alienated those around them? Do they realize they are not even a one-trick pony? How can we support them so they can be a legitimate member of the team going forward?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, August 7, 2019

No Bold Tactics

Let's be clear about something right away. Busy does not equal effective. Everyone is busy...or make themselves 'busy.' I see it all the time. Leaders who want to over share how hectic their days are...so full of things to do...and important executives to sit next to during meeting after meeting.

So...I hate to break it to those folks who thrive on this sort of thing...but you are failing.

Leadership is not only about going to meetings.
Leadership is not only about getting things done on your task list.
Leadership is not only talking about how busy you are.

Tactics and Excuses
Too many leaders get stuck in tactical decisions (even the most senior executives) and convince themselves that they are actually moving their organizations forward.

Not true.

Sure, it's easier to feel productive when you're doing things. I love the feeling of (digitally) checking items off my Wunderlist. But, those items are at the end of the process. At some point, I've had to invest significant time, energy and resources into effectively planning the bold moves my organization or my clients need to make.

There are no tactics in that work.


Strategy and Courage
The really difficult work of planning, executing, and completing strategic plans is, in my opinion, the most important work to be done. True plans...fresh ideas that become reality...launching new product lines...addressing major gaps in the organization and doing something about it...THAT is the work of real leaders.

The same old talk, talk, talk, without the plan is worthless. 

Why reference courage at this point? Easy...most leaders don't have the courage to build the plans necessary...to take the bold risks necessary...to literally move their organizations forward.

It is far easier to work to maintain the status quo and keep life in neutral, than it is to see what needs to be done and build and execute a plan that gets the organization to an entirely new place.

How About You
Look back over the last five years of your career. What risks have you taken? How have you literally changed your organization for the better? What tangible results can you share?

You have it in you to make it happen. You simply need to go for it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Outlive the Hand

"What's the most important contribution that you've made to your organization?"

Let that sink in for a minute.

Now take that question a step further. "What will your most important contribution to your organization be after you've left?"

Whoa.

Trains Running
As you start replaying the various initiatives you've been a part of let's clear something up right away. Keeping operations running smoothly is not the answer to either of my questions. While important, no one has a legacy that starts with "she always kept the trains running on time."

That is an expectation, not a legacy.

Courage
The most important, and candidly impactful, things I've accomplished in my career required a fair amount of risk and courage. Trying new approaches in very public ways (which means failure would also be very public); and, tackling unpopular issues were always at the top of my list. 

Was I a glutton for punishment? Of course not. Did I see opportunities to make a real difference in the life of my organizations? I sure did. The cold reality of pushing issues that are risky is that it is often a lonely path forward. The support often comes after breakthroughs and success. 

But that's not what legacies are built around. It's all about the difference we make. Not the slaps on the back, or praise in front of the masses. Not chasing glory to pump up our fragile ego. It is simply about knowing we did the right thing in a big way. 



How About You
What will your legacy be long after you've written the last verse? What about the other aspects of your life: family, faith, relationships or volunteering? True legacy means that what we've created outlives the hand that created it.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

inspiration
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